Read Ring for Murder (Lighthouse Inn Finale) Online

Authors: Tim Myers

Tags: #mystery, #lighthouse, #cozy, #fiction, #traditional, #tim myers, #inn, #hatteras west, #alex and elise

Ring for Murder (Lighthouse Inn Finale)

BOOK: Ring for Murder (Lighthouse Inn Finale)
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Key
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Myers

 

 

Lighthouse Inn Mystery #7

The Series Finale

 

RING FOR MURDER

 

By

 

TIM MYERS

 

 

 

 

Ring for Murder

By Tim Myers

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Tim Myers

 

All rights reserved.

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
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and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced,
scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. This is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

 

 

 

 

For Patty, who urged me to begin,

and Emily, who suggested I finally
finish.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

In all the years that Hatteras West had
stood as a sentinel in the mountains looking down on the Winston
clan from birth to death, there had never been such a wondrous
occasion to celebrate.

 

Alex Winston and the love of his life, Elise
Danton, were finally getting married.

 

At least that had been the plan until the
dead body appeared.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

“I can’t believe we’re actually getting
married in two days,” Elise Danton said to Alex Winston as they
watched the sunset together from high atop the Hatteras West
lighthouse, their favorite place on earth. The buildings below, a
replica of the Main Keeper’s Quarters and the dual keepers quarters
that now served as their inn, added to the surreal look of their
property, but nothing stood out from the landscape more than their
lighthouse. After all, it was located in the foothills of the Blue
Ridge Mountains, and not on the North Carolina Outer Banks where
its twin stood. Nearby, Bear Rocks shone in the fading light, and
the weathered stone seemed to glow as the sun faded away. Alex was
tempted to light the beacon just behind them, but it had taken
special permission to fire it, and he was saving that for his
wedding day.

He squeezed her hand. “It’s nearly
impossible for me to believe it myself.”

“You’re not having second thoughts, are
you?” Elise asked. “I know you thought you were dying when you
proposed to me.”

He shook his head. Elise’s dark hair caught
flashes of the dying sunlight, and her face was framed with a warm
glow that Alex wasn’t entirely sure was due to the sunset. “That
just helped me finally realize that’s what I’d wanted to do for
ages. I wanted to propose to you from almost the moment we
met.”

“Because of the way I looked?” she asked.
Alex was well aware of the fact that, though Elise was beautiful,
she hated to be judged for her outward appearance alone.

“No, honestly, it was more because of the
way you weren’t afraid to wax the floors in the lobby.”

She smiled at him. “That is exactly the
right answer.”

Alex had once met Peter Asheford, Elise’s
first fiancé, a man who had valued her for her looks and not her
substance. He’d lost her, and Alex had found her, to his eternal
joy and delight. In all honesty, without Elise by his side over the
past few years, he would have never been able to run the inn
without her. She was everything his previous maid, her cousin,
Marisa, had not.

“I can’t believe Marisa is going to be one
of your bridesmaids,” Alex said.

She snuggled a little closer to him. “Hey,
if she hadn’t quit on you and recommended me to take her place, we
never would have met.”

Alex well remembered the first time Elise
had come to Hatteras West. “I’m just glad you didn’t run off when
we found a dead body.”

She shrugged and rubbed his shoulder
lightly. “It’s all part of an innkeeper’s life.”

“Murder?” he asked.

“No, thank goodness, not that, but people do
get born and die in rooms on occasion, though I’ll grant you, we
have a tendency toward more murders than births.”

Alex was too happy to allow himself to think
about the guests they had lost in the past at the inn. It was time
to change the subject to something more pleasant. “When are your
folks getting into town?”

“All they’d say was that they’d be here in
time for the rehearsal dinner tomorrow night.”

Alex whistled softly. “That’s cutting it
close, isn’t it?”

“You know better than most folks how tough
it is to get away from an inn,” she said with a smile. “I’ve been
after them to take some time off, but you know how that goes.
They’ll be here when it counts.” He watched as Elise took a deep
breath, and then asked, “Is your brother still coming?”

“I’m not sure,” Alex admitted. He and his
only sibling Tony were distant at the best of times, and though
Alex had invited him to be in the wedding party out of a sense of
obligation more than anything else, Tony had declined. He hadn’t
even been willing to commit to attending the ceremony, and Alex was
at least a little relieved that he might not be there at all. He
and Tony might have shared a common bloodline, but Mor Pendleton
was more of a brother to Alex than Tony had ever been.

“You’ve still got Mor, don’t you?” Elise
asked.

“And you’ve got Emma.”

The married couple was serving as their
witnesses, best man and matron of honor, and Alex and Elise
couldn’t have been more pleased about it. Everyone in town they
cared about would be there, a celebration to commemorate the love
that folks had watched blossom over the years.

Elise shivered a little. “It’s getting
chilly, isn’t it?”

“October can be like that in the foothills,”
Alex agreed.

“Are you sure you want to get married on
your birthday?” she asked him. “It’s not too late to change
it.”

Alex studied her expression for a moment,
having a difficult time reading it in the fading light. “You don’t
have a problem with getting married on Halloween, do you?”

Elise shook her head. “Of course not. I just
hope our guests don’t show up in costume.”

“Some of them are bound to,” Alex admitted
with a laugh. He touched the lighthouse again, almost as though it
were a talisman for him, a way of being certain that all of this
was really happening. “I was born right here, and getting married
on the steps below is the best way I can think of to celebrate my
life so far.”

“I agree. If we couldn’t get married at the
lighthouse, it just wouldn’t be the same, would it?”

Alex was thrilled once again that Hatteras
West was as much a part of Elise’s life as it was with him. No
matter where he’d traveled in his life, no matter how far he’d been
from home, this was where he belonged, and he knew it. His ties to
the structures, to the very land beneath his feet, were binding in
a way that few folks could ever understand.

He was just glad that Elise was one of the
ones who could.

However, she was right. It was getting
chilly. “How about a fire tonight?”

She nodded. “That sounds wonderful.”

 

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting on
the floor of the lobby in front of the growing fire. Alex was about
to kiss Elise when the front door blew open.

“I made it,” Alex’s brother, Tony, said, as
he stumbled in. Alex couldn’t believe it. Was his worthless brother
actually drunk?

Alex stood and moved quickly to him. Tony
was wearing a black suit, as though he were in mourning; his tie
was askew, though the top button of his shirt was still firmly in
place, and both his shoes were untied. “Tony, I wasn’t sure you
were going to make it.”

“Can’t have my bro get married tomorrow
without me,” he said.

“It’s not tomorrow. It’s the day after.”

“Whatever,” Tony said as he waved a hand in
the air, and then looked over at Elise. “How about a good luck kiss
from the bride, sweetie?”

Standing close to him, Alex could smell the
liquor on his brother’s breath. “Why don’t we save that for the
wedding reception? Maybe you’d like to freshen up a bit. We’ve got
you in the Mountain Laurel Suite.”

“What happened to room numbers?” Tony asked
as he looked indignantly at his brother. “It was good enough for
Mom and Dad. Why isn’t it good enough for you? You puttin on airs,
bro?”

Alex and Elise had changed the room numbers
to names they felt were more fitting to the inn’s surroundings, and
though Alex hadn’t been sure about it first, he’d grown to love the
descriptive names they’d used.

“It used to be room five, if that will make
you happy.”

“Good ole number five,” Tony said. “Always
liked that room.”

Elise collected the key and slipped it to
Alex, then stepped quickly away before Tony could land claim to the
kiss he was clearly expecting.

“Let’s go, Tony,” Alex said as he helped his
brother up the steps. As they climbed, he turned back to Elise and
mouthed the words, “Be right back. Sorry.”

She nodded with understanding, and Alex
focused on getting his brother upstairs and into his bed. “She’s a
real peach,” Tony said as Alex led him down the hallway. “An
absolute peach.”

“I think so,” Alex said as he tried to fit
the key in the lock.

The wrought iron sign for the room was
fastened above the door, and Tony admired it for a moment. “Sign’s
kinda nice after all.”

“We like it.” Alex opened the room door, and
nearly let his brother fall in the process. It would serve him
right, but Tony was a guest at Hatteras West, and Alex was going to
do everything he could to make his brother comfortable, no matter
what.

Alex led him to the bed, but Tony refused to
cooperate. “We need to talk,” he said, slurring his words again,
fighting to remain standing.

“I’m sure we’ll have time,” Alex said.
“Tomorrow.”

“Gotta be now,” Tony insisted. “It’s very
important stuff. It’s about good ole Uncle Jase. He really messed
up, and I mean big time.”

What was the drunken fool talking about?
Their uncle was long dead. Alex eased his brother down onto the bed
and helped him take off his shoes. As he did, Tony rubbed his
forehead and added, “Head’s really pounding.”

Alex nodded. “Hang on a second. I’ll get you
a washcloth.”

He walked into the bathroom, ran a white
washcloth under the cold water, and then wrung it out.

“Here you go,” he said as he reentered the
room.

But Tony was already asleep.

Alex loosened the top few buttons of his
brother’s shirt, pulled his tie off, and then covered him with a
throw blanket.

As Alex started to leave, he remembered the
key, and placed it on the dresser before he left.

“Good night, Tony,” he said softly.

The only answer he got was a loud snore.

 

“My, he was a little tipsy, wasn’t he?”
Elise asked as Alex rejoined her a few minutes later.

“He was drunk. There’s no reason to dance
around it.”

Elise nodded. “Okay, you’re right. Sorry, I
know you don’t like things sugarcoated.”

Alex shrugged. “Still want to marry me?”

She laughed. “Wait until you
meet my Uncle Bobby. It’s not really a party until he dances on the
table and sings the
Star Spangled
Banner
.”

“That’s not too bad.”

“It might not be if he’d ever manage to keep
his pants on while he was doing it,” Elise said with a smile.

Alex had to laugh at the image, no matter
how upset he was by his brother’s visit. “So, we both have black
sheep on our families.”

“To say the least. He’s here though, right?
Isn’t that all that really counts?”

“I suppose so,” Alex said. “Though he didn’t
make a bit of sense upstairs.”

“Did you expect him to?” Elise asked as one
of the logs shifted in the fireplace.

Alex picked up an iron tool and shoved the
burning wood back into place. “He said our uncle Jase messed up. I
wonder if he even remembers that Jase is dead.”

“Your brother clearly has his own share of
demons to wrestle, doesn’t he?”

BOOK: Ring for Murder (Lighthouse Inn Finale)
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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